Ever heard of The Good Pub Guide? Here at I Love Manchester we are compiling our very own Good Grub Pub Guide.
No longer just the village local, pubs are fast becoming destination venues in their own right, notching up awards and accolades, with some even making the coveted Michelin Guide.
Seeking out the best food pubs the region has to offer, we give you the heads up for when you fancy a jaunt to the country. Because sometimes no fancy restaurant can better show just how good our traditional British fare can be.
Fact: there’s no better way to work up your appetite than a good walk. Every first Sunday in May, the Mellor March attracts over 500 ramblers who congregate in the village to walk 12 miles to raise money for some good causes while taking in the glorious scenery, some local points of interest, and some much needed refreshment stops at the welcoming ‘watering-holes’ on our route.
One of the main local landmarks is St Thomas Church at the top of a hill. It’s a bit of a bugger to get up, but once you’re there the views are breathtaking. The church isn’t bad either. Dating back to the 12th century, it has the oldest known wooden pulpit in the area and possibly in the entire world. Plus, they’ve got a fabulous choir. I went on Christmas Day and my ears were still ringing for the Queen’s speech.
But enough of the local history lesson. The place we ended up for some grub was The Oddfellows Arms or The Oddies, as it is known in these parts.
It’s a beautiful looking pub. It feels like a proper traditional local, yet it’s not dark or dingy at all. The whole place is light, airy, cosy, and gorgeous. Set amongst a row of old cottages, there’s a walled seated front garden that is very sociable, with the bar itself the first thing you see as you walk through the doors inviting you in. A few wooden tables are eclectically placed, with log burners and flagstone floors. And the place is dog-friendly, with a couple of black labs padding around during our visit.
Upstairs has a surprising amount of space with a large dining room with a farmhouse kitchen feeling. There’s also a private dining room and comfy snug. It’s definitely one of the finest looking pubs I’ve been in. Maybe you think I’m biased a I live down the road, but this is actually my very first visit, as my local is a couple of miles in the other direction. You might read about it here one day soon.
But today we are knackered, thirsty, and very hungry. First up, the beer. They have a Cask Marque-approved cellar which allows them to stock up to five rotating real ales, including Tweed from Hyde Brewery, Bollington from Happy Valley and Spitting Feathers from Chester. But I’m a lightweight when it comes to beer and happy with half a shandy. Thirsts quenched. Now we need fuel.
I know The Oddfellows Arms has been featured in the Michelin Guide for the last five years so I am expecting a lot food-wise. I am admittedly mildly surprised to find a very straightforward looking pub menu full of traditional classics (I had been expecting a slightly modern offer, with more twists) but I don’t mind this at all. In fact it’s exactly what we need after walking twelve miles today.
Whitebait, Sweet Chilli Mayo £5.50
A fantastic, often overlooked, old-fashioned appetiser. Salty and lightly-battered these are perfectly cooked. We shared them and they were gone in no time at all. The sweet chilli mayo offering a happy little kick.
Broccoli & Stilton Soup (of the Day), Crusty Homemade Bread (v) £5.95
I was glad to have bagged the last bowl of this before it changed to carrot and coriander which I’m not a big fan of. It’s good to see that everything is made fresh here on the day. This was a whipped and velvety, cheesy affair with some lovely warm freshly baked bread rolls and butter.
Steak & Kidney Pudding, Hand-Cut Chips, Garden Peas, Gravy £13.95
I couldn’t believe the sheer scale of this pudding when it arrived at the table. It’s H-U-G-E. The suet pastry is thick and soft, the beef inside tender and succulent without any fat at all, and just enough rich gravy. Not enough kidney for me though. And there were a couple of downsides to the overall dish. The hand cut chips fell far short of being crisp or fluffy, and the garden peas were average and underwhelming. Also the side of gravy was nowhere near as good as that lovely gravy actually inside the pudding.
Oddies Homemade Beef Burger, Soft Bun, Cheese, Club Sauce, Fries £12.95
My walking partner-in-crime ordered a burger, something I rarely eat. I had a bite. I thought it was a decent burger, and his fries were much better than my chips. But he did think it slightly safe and could have benefited from some more adventurous components.
Sticky Toffee Pudding, Toffee Sauce, Vanilla Ice Cream £5.95
Had we not done the March we would have struggled to order a third course. Portions here are big. This sticky toffee dessert looked like it was erupting it was that tall and spongey. Good consistency, tasty and some decent sauce.
Homemade Bramley Apple & Mixed Fruit Crumble, Crème Anglais £5.95
But actually preferred this one. It felt more homely and loved. The apples were tart like they should be with the sweet and crunchy crumble, all balanced out with the smoothest simple crème anglais. Lovely.
We really enjoyed our visit to The Oddfellows Arms. The pub is a stunner. Traditional yet fresh, warm and inviting, with some helpful and friendly staff. It makes for a good local, as well as the type of place you long to find when you’re out and about when visiting somewhere new. Traditional classics are always going to be a winner, just a couple of elements let some of the plates down. And although you don’t mess with what ain’t broken, maybe a few tweaks and twists here and there would be as welcoming as this pub.
Now we just need to work out a way to get our tired and happily full bodies back down the hill home…
73 Moor End Road, Mellor SK6 5PT